News - Dec 18, 2023 Outer Islands not on the ‘Outer’ for Receiving Recycling Depots

Outer island communities in the Pacific have often been overlooked during the provision of waste infrastructure, with communities often left to deal with “waste” (often including valuable recyclable materials) with the only means available – dumping and open burning.

This situation is set to change in 16 outer island communities in the Cook Islands and Tuvalu.  Small 10ft sea containers, to be used as recycling “depots” have been ordered and are currently undergoing modification and painting (bright orange for the Cook Islands!).  These depots will provide communities with a drop-off and consolidation location for recyclable items – enabling the material to be collected, packed, stored, and shipped to the capital islands (and onwards) for recycling.

“The depots will enable communities to participate in our Recycling Deposit program,” says the Director of Tuvalu’s Waste Management Department Epu Falega. “Our outer communities will finally be able to easily receive their deposit back when they return their cans and bottles, and they can benefit from a cleaner environment”.

In addition to the 16 small outer islands, the two most populated islands in the Cook Islands, Rarotonga, and Aitutaki, have requested their depots to be mobile – allowing them to travel around the islands on a weekly schedule ensuring each community can easily access the recycling service.

The depots are set to arrive and be established on the islands in the first half of next year.